Support B-25J Sandbar Mitchell

Support the Sandbar Mitchell B-25J restoration by voting on the attached link, and the restoration will have a chance to receive a $25,000 grant.

Connecticut Air and Space Center

The Connecticut Air and Space Center located in Stratford, Connecticut, opened its doors in 1998 as a non-profit museum. Since that time, the museum has acquired many aircraft and currently they have several great additions under restoration. The museum is itself a floor to ceiling restoration project. The Connecticut Air and Space Center is a static museum that opens its doors to those who are 18 and older. The museum plans to open its doors to all members of the general public when a vintage Curtiss hangar under restoration as we speak is completed allowing families and children to visit and learn about aviation. Andrew King Director of the museum said, “If we can’t get the kids in the museum then we have to get the museum out to the kids.” It all starts with little kids who want to see aircraft, and the spark that is made when they see them, lasts a lifetime.
Restoration is no simple matter. The planes under the museum’s care date back to the first half of the last century and parts are scarce. The museum does its best to keep its planes and components as original as possible, but with the lack of spare parts in modern day, often parts must be duplicated from other existing parts or must be made from factory blue prints. In the event that parts must be new built, visitors are told this as the museum does not try to hide this fact. In addition, some of the equipment that is used to restore these planes back to original condition is also vintage. An example is the WWII era lathe that was torn down and restored to pristine condition over a summer by museum volunteers.

One of the many aircraft that the Connecticut Air and Space Center has under restoration is a Goodyear built FG1-D Corsair Bu. 92460. This corsair was built in late July of 1945, but never saw combat. It served many USMC training groups before it was put into reserves at NAS Litchfield Park. Eventually it was sold to El Salvador’s Air Force and was a part of their aerobatic team. Around 1957 this aircraft was in an accident but the extent of damage is unknown because of the lack of records. The corsair was placed in a junkyard and was a picked by a USMC Corsair pilot by the name of Nick Mainero who had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross during the war. He wanted to have a corsair in the area to honor the men and women of Stratford and Bridgeport Connecticut who built Corsairs during the war. When it arrived in Bridgeport, it was placed on a pole at the Igor I. Sikorsky Memorial Airport and remained there for 37 years. In 2005 talks of getting the plane down to be restored were beginning, but different factions could not agree on what the best future of the aircraft would be. Eventually in 2008 the plane was removed from the pole and restoration soon began. The condition was worse than anyone could have anticipated. Bolts were put through the main spar and the plane was essentially rotting from the inside out. In 2010 Andrew King joined the restoration and was put in charge of the project full time, eventually becoming director of the museum. Around this same time Ed McGuinness took the position of head mechanic/engineer of the project. The center section and main spar were shipped down to Texas to Ezell Aviation. Ezell Aviation restored the main spar and the center section and fixed other parts that needed to be fixed. They saved the museum between 3-5 years of work. Ezell Aviation did $190,000 worth of work in one year. This work was donated to the museum by the owner of the Brewster Corsair project. It has since been shipped back to Connecticut, it is currently being re-assembled by Ed McGuinness and Mark Corvino.

“The Corsair is a static restoration, being a gift from the President El Salvador to the City of Bridgeport.” It will be a tribute to the men and women of Stratford and Bridgeport who were devoted to the war effort. Along with Ezell Aviation, many other mostly local people have donated to the project so that it can be finished and displayed. The museum is currently in collaboration with other corsair restorations, including the Warbird Heritage Foundation’s newly acquired race #94 corsair. Parts are being traded back and forth so that they can be duplicated and replace parts on the plane that are beyond repair. New landing gear and the tail gear where donated by Howard Purdue, who did restorations of corsairs and sold parts. He was killed tragically in an accident in his Grumman Bearcat. The restoration is on-going with 6 full time volunteers who work on it 2-3 days per week, and progress is ongoing. Andrew King, Director of the museum projects, says that the “restoration will be completed by 2015”. Currently over $250,000 is invested in the restoration of the corsair. If there were not volunteers working on the plane, costs would be about 1.5 million dollars.

The next major restoration project that the museum is working is an S-60 Skycrane, prototype which was built by Sikorsky in 1957 and first flew in 1958. This helicopter is very historically significant being that it is a prototype and that it is the last aircraft that Sikorsky personally worked on. This helicopter did everything that Sikorsky wanted, but lacked power and lifting capacity. In 1960 turbines were instated which gave the S-60 four times the lifting power. In 1961 it was involved in an accident with NASA on takeoff. NASA changed the control systems and they became too sensitive and the helicopter rolled over and was practically destroyed. Director of the Connecticut Air and Space Center, Andrew King, offered this comparison, “every time that the pilot moved the stick two inches, it was like he was moving it two feet!”. After the investigation of the crash, Sikorsky gave it to the New England Air Museum (NEAM) in the hope that it could be restored. It sat in NEAM’s storage facility for almost 50 years. Eventually NEAM decided that they would dispose of the airframe as they had no interest in restoring the S-60. It was acquired by the Connecticut Air and Space Center (CASC). The restoration began in 2010 and currently the tail fuselage has been put back together but still must be skinned, the cockpit is 75 percent complete, and there is one spar left that still needs to be restored. This project is a massive undertaking as the helicopter is 90 feet long and has a rotor span of 80 feet long. When the S-60 was picked up from NEAM it was missing the tail section. This is likely because when a tornado hit NEAM in 1979 the tail was in bad condition and was scrapped. The CASC must now rebuild the 17 feet tall tail section from scratch. When finished, it will hold nearly 850 pounds of tail rotors and transmissions. Even though the museum has blueprints, it will still be quite difficult to do. Director Andrew King said that “$6,000 worth of aluminum will be used in the reconstruction of the tail”. The estimated completion date of the S-60 is 2017 because currently they do not have a hangar large enough to house the helicopter during reassembly.

Restoration of a T2V-1/F-1 Sea Star which is the USMC version of the T-33 Shooting Star is also underway. The restoration is being carried out by Dave Phipps who is a former crew chief of a T-33 in the late 1950’s. CASC also has a Sikorsky H-19 helicopter which needs a fresh coat of paint before it will be out on display. In addition, they have two Korean War Sikorsky H05S helicopters. One is being restored for the USMC and the other for their own display. The H05S that the museum is restoring saw combat in the Korean War. The museum’s H05S started with just the cab of the helicopter and pats are being duplicated off of the USMC H05S, to make it a complete airframe. The CASC has been duplicating parts off of the USMC H05S for nearly 8 years. Anything that was not part of the cab section must be made from scratch. There were only 90 of these built and only 10 that survive today, most of which are in museums.

The last aircraft that they have under restoration is a T-38 Talon which is a trainer jet that is still in service today. It was gifted to CASC by AMARC via the GSA, which is an aircraft storage and repurposing facility. In the past couple of months work has been done on the cockpit. When it came from AMARC it was missing an instrument panel and also the nose gear. Nose gears are often missing because, as a trainer jet that is still being used today, they are taken off when they are put in storage because the tough beating that these jets take on landings. A new nose gear will be made and the T-38 will be put on display in the near future.
The volunteers that work at the museum consist of former Sikorsky machinist, workers from Lycoming, and other walks of life. The CASC currently have about 45-50 active volunteers and about 15 of them are at the museum working two days or more a week. Many of the volunteers are retirees in there 70’s and early 80’s. The CASC does not employ anyone, so everyone is a volunteer. Even with the number of people and the fact that they are volunteers the restorations are long and expensive. Director Andrew King said, “For every 1,000 people I talk to 300 people visit the museum, out of the 300 I get 1 volunteer. 1 out of every 1,000 people. Over the course of a year only about 1-2 of the volunteers who join stay, because its hard work and not glamorous like people think.
On January 25, 2014 the museum will be hosting a big display, to gain awareness. A local brewery in Stratford, Connecticut has dedicated a beer to the S-60 and call it “Igor’s Dream”. Although the CASC will not receive any of the proceeds from the brewery they will be accepting donations, so make sure you donate to keep restorations underway. The museum relies on donations and volunteers, don’t be afraid to help out.

For more information about the museum or to donate/ volunteer please contact Andrew King, Director of the Connecticut Air and Space Museum
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Bill Overstreet 357th FG Pilot

We recently lost a Second World War hero by the name of Bill Overstreet. He died at the age of 92 years old on December 29, 2013 at the hospital in Roanoke, Virginia. Captain Bill Overstreet was a Us Army Air Corps fighter pilot of the 357th Fighter Group in the Second World War. He flew over 100 missions during the war and shot down two confrimed enemy fighters. One the planes he shot down was in a dogfight in which he had chased the enemy plane following it under the Eiffel Tower! Captain Overstreet flew the Bell P-39 Aircobra in training in the United States. During a training flight he was forced to bail out when his plane spun out of control. During the war he flew the North American P-51 Mustang. His first mustang he affectionately named “Southern Bell”, but another pilot who was flying it failed to return from a mission. His next mustang he named “Berlin Express” because, they went to, “Berlin on a regular basis, so I named the rest of my planes, ‘Berlin Express’, said Overstreet. During the war he flew in the D-Day Invasion. He “is said to have chased German fighters so close to the ground that he had grass in his wingtips and barbed wire hanging form his tail” (Freeman, The Final Roundup). In recent years he was awarded the highest French Award, French Legion of Honor for his bravery during his service in WWII. Bill Overstreet will be greatly missed, especially in the warbird community. The sacrifices that he made will forever be remembered, by those who knew him and even those who did not.

Please see Bill Overstreet’s obituary for details regarding his memorial and burial services:

Also take a look at the full story of Bill Overstreet’s wartime experiences:

Collings Foundation P-40B 41-13297

The anniversary of Pearl Harbor usually comes and goes without much attention. This year the Collings Foundation, based out of Stowe, Massachusetts has announced on the 72nd Anniversary of Pearl Harbor that it has acquired the only flying survivor of the December 7 attacks; a P-40B. It is also the oldest surviving P-40 Warhawk in the world today. This P-40 was based in the United Kingdom at Duxford Field and owned by the Fighter Collection, who is famous for putting on the annual Flying Legends Airshow. According to the Collings Foundation shipping of this iconic and historic aircraft from England is underway. They have not commented on where this P-40 will be based but my guess is that it will spent the winter in New Smyrna Beach, Florida where most of their aircraft are based during the winter months for maintenance before the annual Wings of Freedom Tour. This year is going to be the 25th anniversary of the Wings of Freedom touring around the United States and giving rides to the public. I will try to find out if their new P-40 will join the tour which begins January 17 of this year.

Over the past couple of years the Collings Foundation has been growing from their original B-17G, B-24J and TP-51C. They have acquired many new aircraft such as two Focke Wulf Fw 190s an F-8 model and a very rare D-9 “Dora” model (known for having a “long” engine instead of a radial engine), a Grumman Wildcat, Grumman Hellcat and a TF-51D Mustang. They recently got their A-36A Invader which is the original P-51 Mustang with an Allison engine instead of a Rolls Royce or Packard built Merlin engine flying, and as of last year they are able to fly passengers in their Messerschmitt Me262, which is a replica of the world’s first jet fighter. The Collings Foundation is headed in a very good direction, as they expand their boundaries and are becoming an even bigger part of the warbird community. An E-newsletter from February of 2012 stated that the Collings Foundation was seeking sponsors for a B-29 Superfortress, B-26 Marauder, SBD Dauntless dive-bomber, and AD-4 Skyraider. It is currently unclear if the Foundation is still looking to pick some of these aircraft but if they were to do so, they would all make great additions to an already great organization and tour.

Also announced recently, the Collngs Foundation has announced that they have acquired the Littlefield Tank Collection of Silicon Valley, California. The collection contains over 200 tanks and vehicles including the world’s only privately owned German Panther tank and vehicles from WWI to modern day. They were donated to the Collings Foundation who will raise 10 million dollars to build a new museum wing at their HQ in Stowe, to house 80 of the most historic tanks. They will Auction of the remaining 160 in August of 2014.

If you are interested in subscribing to the Collings Foundation’s monthly E-news the link is below.